Golden State Trade: Pros, Cons and Analysis of the Ellis-Bogut Swap
Though I had vigorously advocated for GSW to trade Ellis in a previous article, I had not imagined that they would send him away for something that would end their pursuit to fulfill Mark Jackson's playoff guarantee. At the same time, they are sending away Ekpe Udoh, arguably their most promising young player.
However, after a night to sleep on it, I have begun to see a more complete picture of how this trade will affect Golden State. The cons are clear, but there could be a number of promising positives in the Warriors' future.
Here are my observations:
Con: This Season Has Been Mortgaged
Andrew Bogut will not play this regular season. He is recovering from a broken ankle, though he could be able to return in the playoffs.
But after this move, there is no way the Warriors will make the playoffs anyway. It seems the Warriors' brass has given up on fulfilling Mark Jackson's playoffs mandate and has instead decided to build for the future.
While I appreciate their decision to escape NBA purgatory and actually make a decision to win now or win later, there are still 27 games to go. It's going to be a very long second half of the season if we're forced to watch Nate, Klay, Dorell, Lee and Biedrins start most nights.
It's a good thing Warriors fans are practiced at patience.
Pro: Bogut Has Big Upside
Andrew Bogut has been in the league for seven seasons, and is not as injury-prone as I had come to believe previously. He's played more than 65 games in every season besides two (including this one), and his career averages are nothing to turn your nose at.
He's a relatively polished low-post scorer with a penchant for rebounding and more-than-passable defensive skills. He will match up nicely with David Lee on the high post, and a new environment is just what he needs to take his game to the next level.
He's recovering from a broken ankle, which is actually better in some respects to have than a severe sprain. Sprains tend to come with more recurring problems than breaks—as the Warriors have seen with their brittle starting point guard.
Con: Warriors Losing a Great Young Player
Ekpe Udoh was developing into a great young player.
As a matter of fact, Mark Jackson was enjoying Udoh's energy and skill so much that he gave him the starting spot at center over the continually-slumping Andris Biedrins.
Before his insertion into the starting lineup, Udoh was leading all NBA reserves in blocks and his PER and plus/minus were both enviable. He rarely made horrible decisions with the ball and his face-up and mid-range games were getting more and more polished as the season went on.
I had begun to trust Ekpe on offense and defense, and he was only going to get better as he gained more confidence. A big piece of the Dubs' defensive game will have to be replaced now.
Pro: Another Young Player Can Make an Impact
I anticipate that Mark Jackson will give Klay Thompson a number of starts to fill the hole left by Monta Ellis. This could be just the thing Klay needs to reach his full potential.
At 6'7", he's a long shooting guard who will be able to handle other big guards a little more easily than Monta did, which is a boost for the Warriors' horrible defense. Granted, he needs to put a little more energy into moving his feet, but that can be learned.
On the offensive end, Thompson is shooting 46 percent from three-point range, which is tremendous for a rookie. He's beginning to show flashes of on-the-ball brilliance, and he runs around screens like a seasoned veteran. He has the ability to be a very good offensive player for GSW in the long run.
Con: Monta Was a Big Deal
While I have advocated for Monta's departure in the past, I cannot ignore what he brought to the Warriors during his time in Oakland.
Ellis was an incredible find for a late second-round pick. Straight out of high school, he worked himself into Don Nelson's good graces, and was a key contributor to the "We Believe" playoff run in 2007. He quickly became the Warriors' No. 1 scorer and leader after the departure of Baron Davis, and he has played at an All-Star level for a while now.
Monta puts it all on the floor every night. His array of blindingly quick offensive moves and his extremely reliable mid-range jump shot are a big part of the reason the Warriors have won as many games as they have over the past few years.
In an almost 'Iversonian' way, Monta gave his all on every play. He didn't take nights off, he handled clutch situations extremely well and he led by example. Contrary to what uninformed ESPN analysts have been quick to point out, his moped-related antics are far behind him.
The only reason I wanted Ellis out is because the Warriors will be a better team down the road with Curry holding the reins. That's not a knock against Monta. He's a true Warrior for life. It's just a shame we couldn't send him to a contender.
Pro: Curry Is the Man Now
With Monta out, Stephen Curry can finally take control of the Warriors' offense.
Curry showed flashes of greatness in his freshman year, and seems to have regressed since then, constantly taking a backseat to Monta in key situations.
His ankle's weakness has also been a huge concern, and his development definitely hinges on whether or not he can get the injury in order over the summer—it's actually a great thing for the Dubs that he did not make the Olympic cut last year.
When healthy, Curry can do everything Monta can. He breaks down defenses off the dribble, and his quick hands have had him averaging close to two steals for his career. He's a cerebral player with a high basketball IQ, incredible court vision and an NBA pedigree. Lastly, he can shoot from anywhere, anytime.
If he hits his full potential as his confidence grows, he could draw comparisons to Steve Nash or Chris Paul. That's not hyperbole.
Con: 'We Believe' Remnants Leave Bad Taste in Mouth
Unfortunately, Golden State had to pick up the remaining $20 million of Stephen Jackson's horrible contract, and could not move Andris Biedrins in the process.
As it stands, the Warriors still need Biedrins with Bogut's injury and Udoh's departure. However, they don't need Jackson's bad attitude and wanton shot selection. There's a reason why he and GSW parted ways in 2009.
Here's my advice: the Dubs should eat Jackson's contract and let him go to develop our younger talent—though sources say that may not happen. Mark Jackson needs to focus on turning Biedrins' empty shell into something at least mildly productive, so they can move his $9 million dollar per year contract in the summer.
Backup PG Charles Jenkins and F/C Jeremy Tyler could see a lot more playing time going forward. It would be great to see Jenkins starting a few games over Nate Robinson—let's face it, Nate is never more than a temporary solution at each NBA stop he makes. Jenkins is a good shooter who makes great decisions. Mark Jackson may be able to turn him into C.J. Watson 2.0.
Jenkins is very unpolished, so this kind of situation is exactly what he needs. He won't have the pressure of winning, so he can just go out there and show fans what he's made of.
Pro: Top-7 Pick Could Be Coming
As a result of this trade, the Warriors have absolutely nothing going for them in the short run.
If their 2012 first-round pick ends up being lower than No. 7, it will go to the Utah Jazz as a stipulation of a previous trade. It is in the Dubs' best interest to lose games so they can pick up a great piece in the draft—Harrison Barnes anyone?
And if they start Nate, Klay, Dorell, Lee and Biedrins for the lion's share of what's left of the season, they'll be doing a lot of losing.
Here's to tanking for draft picks! I'll see you guys in October.